Saturday, April 23, 2022

T is for Taco Monkey Bread


#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

Just like it never occurred to me to make a sweet quesadilla until I tried them in Q is for Quesadilla, the opposite could be said for monkey bread. I've made it for my family for years. It's super simple: canned biscuits, each cut into quarters, dipped in butter, then rolled in a cinnamon and sugar mixture before layering in a bundt pan and baking. 

Then I found a recipe for Taco Monkey Bread. Canned biscuits (the recipe called for Pillsbury Grands), taco meat, shredded cheese, salsa. I only needed to go to the store for the canned biscuits (and I used Great Value instead of Pillsbury, partly because they are cheaper and partly because that's all they had anyway, and I'm not even going to get into the math involved because they only had small 5 biscuit cans and the recipe called for two 8 biscuit cans). 

I browned the ground beef, which was actually a combination of pork and beef that the local hamburger monger* sells for much less than straight ground beef and added a packet of taco seasoning. 

Browning the meat

The directions said to cut each biscuit in half, flatten it, and wrap each half around a spoonful of taco meat. I flattened THEN cut in half and wrapped, which I believe was much more efficient (work smarter, not harder!). I used a cookie scoop to plop some taco meat onto the rolled out biscuit half before sprinkling on a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese and gathering the dough around the filling, all the while having flashbacks to the Pig Buns once again. It was quite tedious, but my dad sat at the table with me while I made each monkey ball and told stories of his aunts and uncles from when he was a little kid, so time passed rather pleasantly.

One biscuit, flattened, halved, and half stuffed

It became very clear that maybe half a scoop of meat was all that would fit and allow enough dough for wrapping all of it into a ball. Each monkey ball was the size of a ping pong ball and took up a lot of space in the pan. The first layer was only one ball across. The second layer was two balls across, and there wasn't room for a third row unless I wanted monkey balls to overflow the pan into the oven (and the answer to that was I certainly did NOT, as I had run the self-cleaning cycle on the oven that morning and rid it of a great deal of pizza ingredients that had fallen off the many Aldi pizzas my dad has baked over the past few months). Each layer of monkey balls were sprinkled with cheese, and the whole thing went into the oven.

One monkey ball, two monkey balls....

Ready for the oven

The instructions were to bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I set the timer for 20 minutes, and when I checked the monkey balls, they were puffy but very, very pale. I upped the oven temperature to 400 degrees and baked them another seven minutes or so. This time, they were beautifully golden brown. I inverted them onto a pan and served them to my dad and husband with salsa.

Individual monkey balls visible

Monkey balls without definition....
I failed to take a photo of a slice of monkey balls

Whether sweet or savory, the reason for the name "monkey bread" varies, but most often, it is said the name is because it is eaten with one's fingers, as a monkey would do with food. I always thought it was based on a monkey picking nits off another monkey and eating them. Take your pick (no pun intended). Anyway, I bring this up because the balls grew together rather than being individual balls that can be pulled off like, well, nits. We used a knife to cut the monkey bread into slices and dipped chunks of it into salsa before eating.

I thought the whole dish was too bready (or biscuity, in this case) and the meat was lost in it. My dad thought the balls should have been made from a whole biscuit instead of a half biscuit so more meat would fit inside. My husband said it was REALLY good and he liked it the way it was.

My take? I'd rather just have tacos.

* my husband and I have always had a good laugh when we watched Martha Stewart and heard her talk about going to your "local fish monger" to get fish for a recipe. How many towns have fish mongers, anyway? We have Walmart and Aldi to choose from for our ingredients, and I assure you, there are no fish mongers at either place. When at the lake house, however, there is a grocery store with real, honest-to-goodness butchers; hence, our hamburger mongers.


  1. I think I would rather just have tacos too. Way less work.

  2. It does sound complicated, and it would be easier to make meat pies with taco meat to dip in salsa.